December 13th, 2015

As we leave Florida, we fill our thoughts with what lies ahead.  Colleen and I are both very happy though we are bringing the best part of Florida with us to California, our oldest son Brandon!!!  He was able to get off work for a couple of weeks and now not only will he be able to travel with us, but even more exciting the four of us will be spending Christmas together; very cool!

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California seems so far away right now.  Because we left Florida later than we originally planned, it means that the next 10 days will be full of highway sights and experiences.  The first big milestone was to go visit good friends in Mesa, Arizona; so, we threw Brandon’s stuff into the rig and off we went.  We were able to leave at 10am with the intention of making good time and getting as far as we could. As you saw on this trips overview page, we ended up driving 14 hours and stopping in Baton Rogue, Louisiana at a KOA campground after driving 670 miles.  It was a sunny beautiful day in the 70s until it started raining at about 8pm.  We did get stuck in a backup due to an overturned tracker trailer where unfortunately there were multiple cars destroyed.  It was now 11pm (because we entered the Central Timezone) and I was ready for bed :-).

Day 2,  Colleen and Brandon spent some of the day in the hot tub while I worked which is the reason for staying at a campground that night.  It was a gorgeous day.

I know many of you enjoy reading about the mishaps we have along the way, so I will tell you about this one.  As we were driving yesterday, Brandon tried to start the generator so he could charge his computer and phone; the generator did not start so I pulled over to see what the issue might have been.  I tried to start it manually, but the indicator light came on (Needs Serviced).  While at the campground Colleen called somebody locally to come take a look at it right at our site since we were there for the day.  After examination he determined the main electrical plug (which typically attaches to the campground power pole) was damaged and needed replaced; he replaced it and everything worked great!  Turns out it was not the generator at all, as a matter of fact, I asked him if he could change the oil on the generator and he said it was still clean and did not need to be changed.  Now Brandon can play his Runscape game all the way to California!  The generator working is very important because we intend to boondock (camp without hookups) a few nights along the way to avoid $40-$60 overnight campground fees.

Moving on, we left the campground at 5pm and drove until midnight where we pulled into a Walmart parking lot in Sealy, Texas after driving 320 miles.

While I worked, Colleen and Brandon went shopping, read and played games all day.  We left Walmart at 4:30pm and basically spent the next couple days (yes I said days) getting to the other side of Texas which is 880 miles wide!

We did stay in a couple of interesting “Campgrounds” along the way though.  As we started getting west, it had become clear to us that these campgrounds along the highway are very much like parking lots with islands that have hookups.  They are very inexpensive ($30 a night) and you get what you pay for…NOTHING fancy.

Here is one that turns out the campground office was in the truck stop store in Sierra Blanca, Texas.  It was unreal, after figuring out there actually was no “Campground Office”, I went to the truck stop down the road, just to ask where it was and the person behind the counter had no idea; I asked that person, can you ask your manager.  He went into the restaurant and asked around, finally one person came out and talked to me; she said, we are the office.  I explained to this lady the person at the store counter had no idea what I was talking about and was ready to just let me walk away.  She walked me over to the counter and explained to the counter guy that he was the office!  He said, he had no idea.  I just found that funny.

After getting registered, we parked in a site and as normal, I hooked up and took Tootsie for a walk.  It was pitch black out.  When we came back to the RV, Tootsie had these little sticky balls ALL OVER her.  You can see them below (on the shoe pic)  and Colleen vacuuming them up by picking each ball off the carpet and sucking them into the vacuum.

The next day was the first time that we felt weird about anywhere we stayed.  Brandon described it…It reminded him of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It was like 95 degrees with intense sun and just dirt and brush every where.  Lets just say we were happy to move on.

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As we drove we learned that gas prices definitely vary a lot from state to state.  Here is a picture of one gas board in Alabama for regular gas at $1.72 a gallon for instance.

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We have seen gas prices range from $1.35 a gallon (North Carolina) to $3.89 a gallon in California!  Nuts, but true.

We saw beautiful sights along the way as well .

Before we leave Texas, I need to tell you about one other mishap.  We were going through San Antonio on Route 10 West.  There was a fork in the road which had very sketchy signage and I ended up being in the wrong lane to be able to adjust to make the right fork.  I figured no big deal, I would just turn around at the next exit.  LOL…there was no “Next Exit” until we  ended up in a seedy area in southwest San Antonio.  Remember I am a rig towing a car which makes us about 42 feet long; also, while towing a car, you can not backup.  If you can not turn around, you must take the car off the dolly, then maneuver your way out of the situation.

Continuing with the story, the exit brought us into a neighborhood with narrow side streets.  I needed to turn around, so I had to basically take a chance that whichever of these turns I made would completely allow me to go around the block so I made a left onto this narrow side street and as we got to the end everyone in the RV was praying we did not get blocked some how.  We got to end of the block where we could only make a right, it was tight and we could not see if it was a dead end or a clear turn to make my next right and get back to the main road.  We got to the end and we all verbally sighed when we saw we could make the right even though we were inches from hitting a car on the turn.  Another disaster avoided.  Thank you Lord!

After getting back to Route 10, we finally were able to get out of Texas and through New Mexico and into Arizona.  We have heard lots about great things to do in New Mexico, but do not have the time this trip so we look forward to spending some time there someday.

We stopped driving on Thursday (12/17) at Wilcox, Arizona after driving 322 miles.  Another mishap cost us time after we got off the highway however.  There was a campground we were going to which was right off the highway.  We needed to follow the signs to a side road (single lane).  It was dark and as we were passing a Truck wash on the right, we came to a gate across the road.  The gate had a sign stating no entrance after 9 pm…SO, as I can only back up a few feet without damaging the car, I had to make a hard turn into the truck wash.  The only way to turn around in the truck wash however was to go through the actual wash bay itself.  Unfortunately, there was only one bay and a truck being washed.  So we had to wait 45 minutes for that truck to complete the wash.  Life is pretty silly sometimes…..

On Friday, I took a half a day and started off at noon for a short jaunt into Mesa.  We stayed in Mesa at Good Life RV Park for the weekend, pretty great RV Park:

Also had lots of activities to do every day

Lots of different clubs and rooms for activities at the clubhouse too.

Our friends in Mesa are part of our very good friends family originally from Bethlehem, PA, Dave and Stephanie Stevens.  Brandon grew up with Jeremy and went to middle school and Boy Scouts with him.  Jeremy, Kayleigh, and Dave’s ex-wife Tina were all part of our Valley Venturer’s camping group as well.  We are so excited about seeing Jeremy, Kayleigh and Tina as well as Jeremy’s son Kaden and his newest little girl, Hazel and her mom Julia.

We had a great time meeting them all for lunch at a Red Robin in Mesa.  It was so nice catching up with them and finding out what’s new in all of their lives.  We have not seen them since they moved back to Arizona.

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At the time, Kayleigh worked as a waitress at one of the coolest new places I have been to called TopGolf.  The experience is combining dining, drinking, and golf together.  Everyone gets their own range area where you can order food and drinks while playing all different cool golf games.  Definitely a great night out!

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We only got to spend the weekend in Mesa; we really look forward to returning because we can visit with our friends again, as well as, this area has plenty to offer and it is simply beautiful.

Now it is time to take the last leg of this trip and drive to LA!